The German Ambassador to Cambodia supports the government giving land titles to indigenous groups in Mondulkiri province as a means of protecting natural resources.
According to a press release from the German embassy, German Ambassador Ingo Karsten and Math Mara, secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, discussed various issues with indigenous communities in Mondulkiri yesterday.
Mr Karsten said that allocation of communal land titles for indigenous people would lead to the protection of natural resources and creation of economic opportunities.
“Those are the key triggers for indigenous people to benefit from Cambodia’s development,” he said.
Intact ecosystems are very important to the livelihoods of indigenous people as is ecotourism, which will allow indigenous people to benefit from an increasing number of tourists coming to the Kingdom, according to Mr Karsten.
“Tourists can learn a lot from indigenous communities. Indigenous people have been practising sustainability for generations,” he said.
According to the press release, the loss of forests and land constitutes an increasing challenge for indigenous communities.
To stop this trend, the government is currently drafting a new Environment Code, which would strengthen environmental protection in all areas of the country.
Indigenous people have unique cultures, traditions and religious beliefs, and are worthy of being taken into account when designing development projects, it added.
Yon Saroum, director of the provincial rural development department, said that officials always took care of indigenous people and helped them prepare any documents they needed.
“Indigenous people have the right to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day every year. And they should get more protection from the authority, especially the right to get land titles from the government,” he said.
According to report from the Ministry of Rural Development, indigenous people are an essential part of Cambodian’s national heritage, with 24 different ethnicities accounting for 1.4 percent of the population.
The ministry has acknowledged that there are more than 100 indigenous communities in the Kingdom, of which 18 have received collective land titles to date.